GMC Launches New Guidelines to Clampdown on Cosmetic Surgery Cowboys

13 Apr 2016

This week has seen updated guidance from the GMC (General Medical Council) for doctors who undertake cosmetic procedures in the UK. The updated guidance has been issued to help protect patients. From June 2016 onwards, all surgical and non-surgical procedures will be covered by the new guidelines which are designed to ensure that there is a clarity as to what obligations doctors have towards their patients. This should help to stop rogue practitioners who put profits before patient care.

In short, the new guidance that has been issued states that all doctors must:

Support patient safety
Provide an excellent standard and continuity of care
Personally seek a patient’s consent
Give patients sufficient time for reflection on possible treatments
Market and advertise themselves and their services responsibly

This means that promotions such as ‘two for one’ surgeries are banned and procedures and treatments should not be offered as a prize. Doctors undertaking any form of cosmetic treatment must ensure that the patient fully understands the risks that are involved in the procedure and have personally given them their consent. There is also a ban on advertising procedures and treatments with claims that cannot be justified.

Speaking at the launch of the new guidelines, the Chair of the General Medical Council Professor Terence Stephenson said: “Our new guidance is designed to help drive up standards in the cosmetic industry and make sure all patients, and especially those who are most vulnerable, are given the care, treatment and support they need.”

The new guidelines are in response to Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of the cosmetic industry that was carried out in 2013. He found that there were not enough safeguards for patients, particularly those undergoing treatment s such as dermal fillers. His report concluded that: “In fact, a person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush.”

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh also at the launch said “The independent review I chaired, following the PIP breast implant scandal, highlighted major problems with unsafe practices in the cosmetic sector. This marks an important step forward for patient protection across a wide range of cosmetic and lifestyle procedures, including areas such as laser eye surgery.”

The new guidelines will be supported in the near future by further guidelines published by the Royal College of Surgeons that are designed to go hand-in-hand with the advice that has already been published by the General Medical Council.